The Competitive Applications are those applications with which the company can differentiate themselves from the competition. They often provide a Unique Selling Point (USP) for the company, which attracts new customers can better services existing customers. The Commodity Applications support the production process or the logistics chain. This is where the money is made. The four types of applications create a quadrant in which a distinction is made between the 4 phases of the application life-cycle:
- Each application starts at the bottom left corner; we call this the ‘Invent corner’. This is where new applications are developed. Many of those attempts fail and partly because of this, this phase of life needs infrastructure that can be switched on quickly, but if the project fails, it can also be switched off just as quickly. The use of a Public Cloud is therefore very useful here.
- If a new application proves to be successful, it should immediately be scaled up: ‘Deploy to Scale’. And because the application has become Mission Critical, there are also more security requirements regarding availability and security. This is typically corner where Managed (cloud) Services added to the stack. ‘Built to Change’ is the adage here, with the possibility to respond quickly to new wishes of the customers, to be able to add extra capacity for the marketing campaign or to respond to seasonal influences. But with the certainty of a solid SLA.
- Sooner or later, there is a moment in the life-cycle of an application that its functionality does no longer provide a competitive advantage; it has become a commodity. The application slowly shifts right to the top right corner. We call this corner: ‘Manage Scale’ and this is where most of the legacy applications reside. The infrastructure under these applications is ‘Built to Last’ with as few changes as possible. A Private Cloud is the most frequently used infrastructure under this part of the application landscape.
- Finally, a number of applications will be moved to the bottom right, where applications are still running that we still need, but where we want to spend less time and attention. Procuring this functionality as Software-as-a-Service is usually the best choice.
Classifying your applications into these quadrants gives a clear insight into what type of infrastructure would ideally fit the application.
By classifying and disentangling the application landscape in this way, the main cause of the lack of innovation speed is revealed: 70 to 80 percent of your resources are spent on Commodity Applications (!), also called ‘Keeping the lights on’. This means that only 20 to 30 percent of the available resources can be spent on Competitive Applications. That’s why newcomers in the market, who are exclusively engaged in fun, new, innovative services have a competitive advantage. To correct this imbalance, it is important to move the legacy applications from the Managed Scale phase and accelerate them to the Offload phase. This will enable you to save time and money, which can then be used on the competitive half of the application landscape.